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Blood clot sidelines Rogers until at least All-Star break

March 31st, 2007 1:09 am by Associated Press

Kenny Rogers won't start his season until summer - maybe later.

A key part of the pitching staff that led the surprising Detroit Tigers to the AL pennant last year, Rogers is out until at least the All-Star break following surgery Friday to remove a blood clot from his left shoulder and repair arteries.

"We might have been the only club in baseball with five established starters," Tigers president Dave Dombrowski said in Lakeland, Fla. "It's an edge we have here and all we did was lose a little of the edge. We still have a great club with four established starters and a strong bullpen."

Rogers complained of a tired arm Wednesday. The 42-year-old left-hander was flown to Baylor University in Texas, where Dr. Greg Pearl performed the surgery. Rogers is expected to start throwing in six to eight weeks, and Dombrowski said the earliest the pitcher would return to the rotation is July.

Chad Durbin becomes Detroit's fifth starter behind Jeremy Bonderman, Justin Verlander, Nate Robertson and Mike Maroth. Durbin was 0-0 with a 1.50 ERA in three relief appearances with Detroit last year.

"I have confidence in Chad Durbin, but can anyone replace Kenny Rogers? No," manager Jim Leyland said.

Heading into the final weekend before the season, Detroit agreed with shortstop Carlos Guillen on a $48 million, four-year contract extension through 2011.

In Tampa, Fla., much-maligned Carl Pavano was chosen as the New York Yankees' opening-day starter against visiting Tampa Bay - his first time on the mound in the major leagues since June 27, 2005.

Pavano will be followed in the rotation by Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina and Kei Igawa. With Chien-Ming Wang sidelined by a strained right hamstring, Darrell Rasner will be the fifth starter at the beginning of the season.

A failure during the first two seasons of his $39.95 million, four-year contract, Pavano got the assignment after injuries to Wang and Pettitte. Sidelined by shoulder, back, buttocks, elbow and rib injuries, Pavano has been ridiculed in New York, and even some of his teammates questioned his desire to pitch.

"The way circumstances worked out, he's throwing the ball as well as any of us," said Mussina, who at the start of spring training told Pavano he had to regain the club's trust.

In Bradenton, Fla., former All-Star closer Dan Kolb was reassigned to Pittsburgh's minor league camp and is looking for another major league job. He is expected to report to their minor league camp if he is not offered a spot on an opening-day roster by another team.

In a surprise move, the Pirates released non-roster infielder Jose Hernandez, who has played for manager Jim Tracy with the Dodgers and Pirates. Hernandez hit .300 with four doubles in spring training, the third time in his career he has been with Pittsburgh.

In Port St. Lucie, Fla., the New York Mets optioned Chan Ho Park to Triple-A New Orleans. Park could have declined the demotion but decided he wanted to stay with the organization.

The 33-year-old Park finished spring training with a 5.89 ERA in 18 1-3 innings. He was a candidate for the rotation before Saturday, and the Mets have been eager to see if Park could be effective out of the bullpen. But general manager Omar Minaya said it was unfair to ask Park to make the turnaround so quickly.

"We like him and we want him to be with us," Minaya said. "He wants to be with us also."

In Norfolk, Va., Baltimore outfielder Jay Payton said he probably will start the season on the disabled list because of a strained left hamstring.

Payton injured himself trying to advance from second to third in an exhibition game Monday.

In San Francisco, the Oakland Athletics said they agreed to a minor league contract with infielder Todd Walker, released by San Diego earlier this week.

The move gives the A's flexibility in the infield after they lost first baseman Dan Johnson to a hip injury this week.

In other games:

At Philadelphia, Manny Ramirez's first homer of the spring was one of four Boston hit off lefty Cole Hamels. J.D. Drew, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis also connected.

At Winter Haven, Fla., Jake Westbrook allowed only an unearned run over seven innings for Cleveland. Blue Jays starter Victor Zambrano gave up two runs and two hits in six innings.

At Sarasota, Fla., Ken Griffey Jr. drove in his second run of spring training, hitting an RBI single for Cincinnati.

Griffey, who scored from first on a double by Juan Castro, is 5-for-17 (.294).

At Bradenton, Fla., Minnesota's Ramon Ortiz yielded one hit in four scoreless innings. He said he relied on a changeup taught to him by teammate Johan Santana, the two-time AL Cy Young Award winner.

At Norfolk, Va., Washington center fielder Nook Logan needed just three innings and two at-bats to pronounce his strained right groin healthy enough for opening day. Baltimore right-hander Jaret Wright struggled in his final start of the spring, yielding four runs and walking six in 4 1-3 innings.

At Colorado Springs, Colo., Rockies outfielder Brad Hawpe tested his ankle before the game and is expected to be ready for opening day.

At Peoria, Ariz., San Diego's Chris Young allowed five unearned runs on three walks and four hits in 2 2-3 innings.

At Atlanta, Mark Buehrle's final tuneup for Chicago went a little smoother than Chuck James' did for the Braves.

Buehrle allowed two runs in seven innings with three walks. James gave up two runs, three hits and two walks in four innings.

AP-CS-03-30-07 2234EDT

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